Posts tagged “life

An Apple Tree

Practical jokes dot the countryside of my life’s landscape.

In my college house, it was not uncommon to find rubber bats hanging in the shower or fake mice in the cereal box in the morning. A batch of cookies was always suspect, the probability of finding one filled with hair quite high. We woke a friend one morning to the national anthem belching (literally) from a tape player under her bed, then ran laughing all the way to campus while she chased us down the street in her pajamas.  (more…)


Funeral Clothes

I pull the blue blouse
hanging limp, lifeless
already buttoned
over my head, squeeze
the top button
through its stitched slot
thinking I’ve worn
the pale brown suit
too many times of late.

She calls me over,
reminds me
to take the small hardanger
a memory, so I don’t forget.
A tear breaks
onto her blouse, bright print
against the black,
and she squeezes my hand
too tight, saying
One by one, my friends
are going.

I undo the blue buttons,
hang the blouse limp, open
over pale brown slacks,
squeeze the sweater back
in its place,  too small,
ready for the next time.
I zip Levis, pull a sweatshirt
over my head
proving we’re all still here.


Jackie

When my adult class one Sunday morning considered how one of the byproducts of living in community is that by the time we all get mixed up with one another, we see Jesus. We see maturity. We see wrestling with our own demons and we see getting through. We see grief and grace and joy and pain.*

I asked them to consider some of those marks in our community, ones that might even look like the Spirit’s fruit, like love and joy and peace and patience. Or joy. What about joy?

When you think about the kind of joy the Spirit births in our depths, who among us comes to mind? Who do you see walking around that makes you stop and say, Joy?

That was the question.

In the time a breath might take, I heard a single name. And a murmur of whole heart agreement around the table.

Jackie.

Of course. Jackie. She is Jesus out walking around. She is joy with legs. (more…)


The Shoe

I know how she died.

Her family relayed the details. Witnesses gave me statements.

I’ve been to the scene, read the official report, browsed the news accounts.

And now, I’m reading the coroner’s report. The days these papers skid across my desk are the ones I’d rather not show up for work. I’d like to tuck the report between the manila folds without a glance and just say it contained no helpful information.

(more…)


Rerun: Either Way, I Win

I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! (Philippians 1:20-22)
::
“Either way, I win.”
One of the dear saints in my church told of her upcoming surgery to clear what even she would call a ginormous aneurysm from way too close to her heart. The surgery is risky, and complicated by other troublesome health conditions. “I’d like to continue on,” she said. “But if I don’t, well, that’s o.k. too. I know where I’m going. And I’ll see Jack again. I haven’t seen my husband since I was, what, 35 years old.”
Either way, she wins.
Either way, a glorious outcome.
Two such excellent choices. One hardly knows which to choose.
::
This gentle warrior would tell us of the ultimate win-win scenario. And while I nod in agreement, I marvel at how she has grasped this in such a tangible way.
For me, it’s much more abstract. I don’t have a daily sense my finite condition. I read in God’s word that our lives are but a vapor, that we are as grass that withers and fades. And of course I agree. But all the while I agree, I don’t see that vapor dissipating today or tomorrow. I expect that the green grass of summer will hold out a few more seasons before it fades.
Would I nod so readily if I sensed that withering to be closer at hand?
::
Paul wrestled with the choice (though it was not his to make). “What shall I choose? I do not know!” He saw the beauty in living on in his body for he knew how God would continue to use him mightily. Yet the tug of kick starting his eternity in the heavenly realms had a certain appeal.
It left him wondering.
What’s the better choice? Which will I love more?
Which will exalt my Redeemer the most?
::
While we may not sense that the choice rests so closely on the horizon, it’s still important that our grip on this mist we call life is not so tight. Not that all the clenching in the world could make us any more able to hold the vapor in our fist.
Holding tight makes withering grass crumble.
::
Will I see the joy in both options today?
And will you join me in praying for this sweet saint and the challenges she faces in the days ahead?
::
 

 

This post originally appeared in March . . . not that long ago to repost already, I suppose. But it remains an important one for me as God continues to drive home the reality of our  — of my — finite and uncertain journey here. Contrasted with the infinite wonder of our eternity with Him, it’s a curious thing we do, holding on to withering sprigs.

I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! (Philippians 1:20-22)

“Either way, I win.”

grassOne of the dear saints in my church told of her upcoming surgery to clear what even she would call a ginormous aneurysm from way too close to her heart. The surgery is risky, and complicated by other troublesome health conditions. “I’d like to continue on,” she said. “But if I don’t, well, that’s o.k. too. I know where I’m going. And I’ll see Jack again. I haven’t seen my husband since I was, what, 35 years old.”

Either way, she wins.

Either way, a glorious outcome.

Two such excellent choices. One hardly knows which to choose.

:: (more…)